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Searching secrets rationally



We study quantitative information flow, from the perspective of an analyst who is interested in maximizing its expected gain in the process of discovering a secret, or settling a hypothesis, represented by an unobservable X , after observing some Y related to X . In our framework, inspired by Bayesian decision theory, discovering the secret has an associated reward, while the investigation of the set of possibilities prompted by the observation has a cost. We characterize the optimal strategy for the analyst and the corresponding expected gain (payoff) in a variety of situations. We argue about the importance of advantage , defined as the increment in expected gain after the observation if the analyst acts optimally, and representing the value of the information conveyed by Y . We also argue that the proposed strategy is more effective than others, based on probability coverage. Applications to cryptographic systems and to familial DNA searching are examined.

Suggested Citation

  • Michele Boreale & Fabio Corradi, 2015. "Searching secrets rationally," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2015_05, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
  • Handle: RePEc:fir:econom:wp2015_05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thore Egeland & Petter F. Mostad, 2002. "Statistical Genetics and Genetical Statistics: a Forensic Perspective-super-," Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Danish Society for Theoretical Statistics;Finnish Statistical Society;Norwegian Statistical Association;Swedish Statistical Association, vol. 29(2), pages 297-307.
    2. Fabio Corradi & Federico Ricciardi, 2013. "Evaluation of kinship identification systems based on short tandem repeat DNA profiles," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series C, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 62(5), pages 649-668, November.
    3. Klaas Slooten & Ronald Meester, 2014. "Probabilistic strategies for familial DNA searching," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series C, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 63(3), pages 361-384, April.
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    More about this item


    Confidentiality; quantitative information flow; decision theory;

    JEL classification:

    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other

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